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Hans Thewissen, a leading researcher in the field of whale paleontology and anatomy, gives a sweeping first-person account of the discoveries that brought to light the early fossil record of whales. As evidenced in the record, whales evolved from herbivorous forest-dwelling ancestors that resembled tiny deer to carnivorous monsters stalking lakes and rivers and to serpentlike denizens of the coast.
Thewissen reports on his discoveries in the wilds of India and Pakistan, weaving a narrative that reveals the day-to-day adventures of fossil collection, enriching it with local flavors from South Asian culture and society. The reader senses the excitement of the digs as well as the rigors faced by scientific researchers, for whom each new insight gives rise to even more questions, and for whom at times the logistics of just staying alive may trump all science.
In his search for an understanding of how modern whales live their lives, Thewissen also journeys to Japan and Alaska to study whales and wild dolphins. He finds answers to his questions about fossils by studying the anatomy of otters and porpoises and examining whale embryos under the microscope. In the book's final chapter, Thewissen argues for approaching whale evolution with the most powerful tools we have and for combining all the fields of science in pursuit of knowledge.
"Thewissen provides an excellent balance between the science and the narrative. . . . an excellent read."
1. A Wasted Dig Fossils and War A Whale Ear
2. Fish, Mammal, or Dinosaur? The King Lizard of Cape Cod Basilosaurid Whales* Basilosaurids and Evolution
3. A Whale with Legs The Black and White Hills A Walking Whale
4. Learning to Swim Meeting the Killer Whale From Dog-Paddle to Torpedo Ambulocetid Whales* Ambulocetus and Evolution
5. When the Mountains Grew The High Himalayas Kidnapping in the Hills Indian Whales
6. Passage to India Stranded in Delhi Whales in the Desert A 150-Pound Skull
7. A Trip to the Beach The Outer Banks A Fossilized Coast
8. The Otter Whale The Whale with No Hands Remingtonocetid Whales* Building a Beast out of Bones
9. The Ocean Is a Desert Forensic Paleontology Drinking and Peeing Fossilized Drinking Behavior Walking with Ambulocetus
10. The Skeleton Puzzle If Looks Could Kill How Many Bones Make a Skeleton? Finding Whales' Sisters
11. The River Whales Hearing in Whales Pakicetid Whales* September 11, 2001
12. Whales Conquer the World A Molecular SINE The Black Whale Protocetid Whales* Protocetids and History
13. From Embryos to Evolution A Dolphin with Legs The Marine Park at Taiji Shedding Limbs Whaling in Taiji
14. Before Whales The Widow's Fossils The Ancestors of Whales Indohyus* A Trust for Fossils
15. The Way Forward The Big Question Tooth Development Baleen as Teeth
Notes Index *These six headings summarize the biology of the six fossil groups that form the transition between whales and their terrestrial ancestors. Their relationships to each other and to the living families of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) are given in figure 66.
ISBN: 9780520305601 ISBN-10: 0520305604 Audience:
Tertiary; University or College
Number Of Pages: 256 Published: 2nd March 2019 Publisher: UNIV OF CALIFORNIA PR Country of Publication: US Dimensions (cm): 22.86 x 14.61
Weight (kg): 0.41
Edition Number: 1